Million Dollar Las Vegas Con Uncovered

Two men who were involved in pulling off a million dollar con job in Las Vegas can no longer enter a casino or any other gambling establishment in Nevada, after having their names put into the state’s black book.

The con by James Russell Cooper and Anthony Grant Granito took place in the Bellagio on the Las Vegas strip, where they initially got away with more than $1m.

The two men now have the distinction of becoming the 33rd and 34th people to be entered on the statewide blacklist, which bans anyone on it from entering any casino in Nevada.

Details of the con

Cooper and Granito were part of a four-man team involved in the con. The two accomplices were Jeffrey Martin and Mark Branco.

A number of incidents took place between August 2012 and July 2014 at the Bellagio. During this time, more than $1.2m was taken.

Officials first became aware of something nefarious underfoot in 2014. A pattern of bets were successful despite having odds of 452bn to 1. This naturally raised a red flag.

Branco was employed at the casino as a craps dealer. His role in the con was to be working at the table when Cooper was running the scheme. Two of the other individuals would say a hop bet in a low voice under their breath. This is a type of bet a person places in the hope that certain numbers appear following the dice roll.

Another of the dealers would then pay these men out on the bet when it was successful, saying that they heard what the person said under their breath.

To try and cover their tracks, they placed many legitimate losing bets. However, this clearly did not throw off the authorities as they eventually were able to figure out the scam.

The four men were convicted in 2016 and went to prison on charges of cheating and theft. Branco is currently the only one who remains in jail, with the others released on probation.

Nevada blacklist

The aim of the Nevada black book is to help crack down on organized crimes in casinos. Criminals known to the casinos are put on this list and if they step into any casino in the state, they are instantly committing a crime.

If a casino does not report this person to the authorities, then that is also a criminal offense. The book began in 1960 and it still has only 36 pages in it. Some of the state’s most notorious individuals have been on this list over the years.

A major fear that led to the creation of this book was that crime at casinos would become uncontrollable. This would result in Congress getting rid of the gambling industry as it would be more trouble than it’s worth.

The first list contained 11 names, made up of people who have a “notorious and unsavory reputation which would adversely affect public confidence and trust that the gaming industry is free from criminal or corruptive elements”.

Legal ramifications

The black book is part of Nevada state law. Certain gambling establishments are excepted, such as bars, stores and airports that have 15 slots or fewer and don’t have any gaming tables.

A number of conditions condone inclusion: having a felony conviction, being in violation of gaming laws outside of Nevada, partaking in a moral turpitude crime, not making a disclosure of their involvement with a gaming establishment, avoiding paying taxes or having a poor reputation with federal or state authorities.

Anyone who is on the list has the chance to dispute it through a special hearing. The offense for those in violation of the black book rules is a gross misdemeanour charge.

Over the years, a number of individuals have challenged the legality of this black book, but both federal and state courts have ultimately ruled in its favour.